Online forum aims to teach how to deal with pandemic stress

first_imgThis is part of our Coronavirus Update series in which Harvard specialists in epidemiology, infectious disease, economics, politics, and other disciplines offer insights into what the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak may bring.The first step in dealing with stress is understanding what it is and what it looks like.That was the lesson Wednesday in the second in a series of weekly Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health online forums addressing the emotional and psychological effects of the COVID-19 crisis. Speaking from their home offices, Christy Denckla, a Chan School research associate in epidemiology, and Karmel Choi, a clinical and research fellow in psychology at the Chan School and Massachusetts General Hospital, broke down the challenge, identifying the components of stress and resilience before discussing strategies to deal with them. The forum was presented and recorded for later viewing on the cloud-based Zoom meeting app.To manage in these extraordinary times, Choi said, it helps to understand the nature of stress. Using onscreen diagrams, she outlined its four major triggers: novelty, threat, unpredictability, and lack of control. “Each one of these on its own is enough to make us feel stressed,” she said. “With the coronavirus outbreak worldwide, we’re seeing all of these come together and all at once. It’s no wonder people are feeling stressed.”How we react to these factors can vary widely, however. Choi identified four basic “bins,” or types of reactions: emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral. Although many of us associate stress with feelings of fear or anxiety, it may also manifest as irritability or numbness, she noted. Physically, we may feel less energetic, and may even find ourselves moving more slowly. Eating and sleeping habits may also be disrupted. In terms of cognition, we may find it more difficult to concentrate or think things through, and our memory may become faulty. Behavioral responses range from withdrawal to taking more risks, as we seek ways to exert control in a newly uncontrollable reality.Awareness of these reactions is useful, Choi said, because it helps us identify and understand what is happening. “Anxiety and stress are normal,” she said. “Our brains are wired to pay attention to the things that are bad for us, and our bodies are wired to get us out of dangerous situations.” Ignoring stress can actually be counterproductive, because such denial may make us feel guilty or bad about our feelings.To find a balance, Choi offered what she called “the Goldilocks principle”: “Some stress is good to keep us safe and on our toes,” she said, “while too much can get in the way of functioning.”Resilience — the ability to bounce back and weather the storm — may be the key to finding this balance. Choi and Denckla, whose research has focused on resilience, see it as made up of different components. One part, she said, appears to be innate, a trait we are born with. Another is what she calls outcome, the lasting effect of trauma or stress. For example, some veterans suffer acutely from post-traumatic stress disorder, while others do not. Ongoing research is studying why outcomes differ, said Denckla, but at this point little is known. “We’re not just working from home. We’re working from home in a pandemic. If things feel different it’s because they are different.” — Karmel Choi Harvard Medical School students mobilize Economists cheered by relief package but see long, tough slog ahead Harvard Law School faculty Charles Fried and Nancy Gertner discuss new restrictions on individual freedoms Form COVID-19 rapid response teams to provide support, information “Be kind to yourself and others,” said Choi. “We shouldn’t be pushing for normal productivity. We’re not just working from home. We’re working from home in a pandemic. If things feel different it’s because they are different.”The series, hosted by Karestan Koenen, Chan School professor of psychiatric epidemiology, will continue Wednesday at 11 a.m. with how to know if you need more help, a discussion about recognizing and treating significant and clinical distress. The forums are open to the public and can be accessed via the Chan School’s website.center_img Karen Dynan and Kenneth Rogoff say Fed and Congress are moving in the right direction Restricting civil liberties amid COVID-19 pandemic Related More relevant to our current situation, and where her research has focused, is the middle component of resilience: process, or what happens and what we choose to do in the face of trauma.She shared some encouraging news from a study of Hong Kong residents during the SARS epidemic. “The majority of people who experience high stress maintain stable functioning,” she said. A closer look at the elements that contributed to this group’s resilience revealed several factors. Focusing on those within our control, Denckla cited social, psychosocial, and biological elements. Self-regulating — whether that means turning off the news and tuning in a favorite music playlist — helps, as does exercise, which can be facilitated by any of the many online classes and recordings available. Social networks, even if necessarily online or virtual, appear to contribute to resilience as well.“I’ve connected with an uncle in Italy,” she shared. “We exchange recipes and pictures of our dinners.”Finally, she said, anything that promotes a sense of self-mastery or agency appears to help. Faith or mindfulness, for example, give a sense of meaning that can bolster our ability to weather difficult times.The two offered concrete steps designed to both increase resilience and reduce stress. Denckla ran through a simple breathing exercise, explaining that deep and mindful “belly” breathing, held and released slowly, triggers the parasympathetic nervous system. Even a series of only three such breaths, held and released for a count of five, counters the panicked “fight or flight” response.Maintaining a stable routine, rising at the same hour and observing meal times or family functions as much as possible, helps as well. At the same time, occasionally giving yourself permission to enjoy whatever gives you comfort is healthy, too.last_img read more

University announces Sister Norma Pimentel as 2018 Laetare Medal recipient

first_imgEditor’s note: A version of this story appeared in the print edition of The Observer on March 20.Notre Dame will award Sister Norma Pimentel — head of the Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley — the 2018 Laetare Medal, the University announced in a press releaseSunday.Each year, Notre Dame awards the Laetare Medal to an American Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”According to the release, both of Pimentel’s parents immigrated from Mexico to the United States and she spent much of her childhood traveling between the two countries. After completing her final vows and entering the Missionaries of Jesus, she worked closely with immigrants, who were often brought to the sisters’ convent.Pimentel said this experience shaped her understanding of her faith in concrete ways.“Scripture comes to life and our faith becomes flesh,” she said in the release. “It is not until you find yourself in front of the face of the immigrant child or mother that you will understand this. It is a moment of realizing we are all one human family.”Since 2008, Pimentel has directed charitable programs for the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, including “emergency food and shelter, housing assistance, clinical counseling and pregnancy care to all four counties in the Rio Grande Valley.”University President Fr. John Jenkins said Pimentel has lived out the call to recognize Christ in the marginalized through her work with refugees and migrants.“Jesus said, ‘when I was a stranger, you invited me in.’ Sister Norma Pimentel has given her life to welcoming Christ in the immigrant and refugee,” Jenkins said in the release. “In awarding her the Laetare Medal, Notre Dame celebrates her witness of seeking and generously serving Christ in the most vulnerable.”Pimentel said in the release that she was grateful to receive the 2018 Laetare Medal.“I am truly honored to receive this award,” she said. “This year’s Laetare Medal brings forth the cries of the suffering for the world to hear. I would like to thank the University of Notre Dame for this recognition and for being a voice for immigrants in our midst.”Pimentel will be awarded the medal on May 20 at commencement.Tags: 2018 Commencement, Commencement 2018, Immigration, Laetare Medal, Sister Norma Pimentellast_img read more

FA Cup: Reds, Toffees light up Anfield in derby

first_imgRelatedPosts Lampard: I still have confidence in Tomori Fulham keen on Lookman loan deal Mane double eases Liverpool to win over 10-man Chelsea Liverpool vs. Everton Venue:Anfield Stadium Kick off: 5:01PMLiverpool will look to replicate their astonishing Premier League form in the FA Cup when they meet local rivals Everton in the third round this afternoon. Jurgen Klopp’s men are cruising at the top of the table, while the Toffees are enjoying a resurgence of form under new boss Carlo Ancelotti. Thursday’s 2-0 victory over Sheffield United handed Liverpool the incredible record of going a full calendar year without losing a game in the Premier League. The result leaves the Merseyside club 13 points ahead of closest challengers Leicester City with a game in hand, leading many to believe that the title is already destined for Anfield. However, while Liverpool’s resurgence in the league and in Europe has been remarkable, such success has not replicated itself in the FA Cup during the Klopp era. Since the 2015-16 campaign, Liverpool have not gone beyond the fourth round, exiting the competition at that stage on three occasions and losing to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the third round last term. Having not won the accolade since 2006, supporters will hope that their team places greater emphasis on going deeper in this competition – starting with a tantalising meeting with their biggest rivals under the lights today. For Everton, it was their last visit to Anfield in December – a 5-2 defeat – that put the nail in the coffin for former manager Marco Silva, who was sacked soon after. Since then, however, the Toffees have discovered a sense of rhythm that seemed to elude Silva and his players from the moment the 2019-20 campaign kicked off. Following a galvanising victory over Chelsea under caretaker boss Darren Ferguson, the club secured the services of Champions League winner Ancelotti in what must be viewed as a masterful piece of recruitment. The Italian has exerted an immediate impact, recording a pair of dominant victories over Burnley and Newcastle United ahead of performing impressively during a 2-1 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad. Indeed, Ancelotti will point to the organisation and energy of that performance as a blueprint for how Everton must negotiate the trip to Anfield this weekend. Liverpool possible XI: Adrian, Hoever, Van Dijk, Gomez, Robertson, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Salah, Firmino, Elliot. Everton possible XI: Pickford, Sidibe, Holgate, Keane, Digne, Davies, Sigurdsson, Walcott, Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Kean.Tags: AnfieldEvertonFA CupJurgen KloppLiverpoolToffeeslast_img read more